Friday, February 27, 2015
Leaving Goshen forever
I pronounce ‘Mizmor Qoph Kaph’ and begin to form the syllables destined for this day, ‘Shir ha-ma’alot el Adonay, batsaratah li, qarati vaya’aneyni.’ I pause, and the sound of David’s song pierces my soul as my heart understands. I shift from this world to the world to come, though I know I am standing on the earth, and my eyes tumble over the syllables of salvation sung before the ages for me, ‘A song of ascents, to Yahweh. In my distress I cried, and He answered me.’
I cannot believe my eyes! Everything appointed by the Lord is so efficacious, so appropriate, so prophetic, so well adapted to those whom He loves, to those who call upon His name, be they ever so lowly, so sinful. He draws us after Him. So the psalms of my last day of working for the world, toiling for pharaoh so that he may have storehouses for his wealth, these psalms are the songs of ascent. Psalm 120, ‘Qoph Kaph’ leading, Psalm 134, ‘Qoph Lamed Dalet’ completing.
As I read the morning offering, my life passes before me, known to Him before I was ever born, now revealed to me still alive looking back. ‘Lord, rescue my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. What can He give you, and what can He add to you, O deceitful tongue? You are like the sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of rotem-wood. Woe unto me for my drawn-out sojourn. I dwelt with those who inhabit the tents of Kedar. Long has my soul dwelt with those who hate peace. I am peace, but when I speak, they are for war…’ (Psalm 120).
I tremble as I realize He has been with me, guiding me, guarding me, through all these trials. ‘I raise my eyes upon the mountains, whence will come my help? My help is from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to falter. Your Guardian will not slumber. Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Guardian of Israel. Yahweh is your Guardian, the Lord is your Shade at your right hand. By day the sun will not harm you, nor the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from every evil, He will guard your soul. Yahweh will guard your departure and your arrival, from this time and forever…’ (Psalm 121).
I continue, unaware of the passage of time. ‘Mizmor Qoph Kaph Beyt, shir ha-ma’alot le David’ and as I form the Hebrew with my tongue, my heart translates into my mother’s speech. ‘I rejoiced when they said to me, let us go to the House of Yahweh. Immobile stood our feet within your gates, O Jerusalem…’ (Psalm 122) and by now my soul races ahead in the Hebrew and the English words, no longer needed, are cast off as a garment in the heat of running a sprint. Yes, though my body reclines in praise and wonder, the soul united to the Uncreated is in hot pursuit of the Eternal.
My friends and companions, co-sufferers for the sake of Truth and Righteousness, for the sake of Christ, I think of you as my fingers glide over the characters on the page, You are with me somehow, as I contemplate our trials. ‘To You I raise my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Behold! Like the eyes of servants unto their Master’s hand, like the eyes of a maid unto her mistress’ hand, so are our eyes unto Yahweh, our God, until He will favor us. Favor us, Lord, favor us, for we are fully sated with contempt. Our soul is fully sated with the mockery of the complacent ones, with the contempt of the arrogant…’ (Psalm 123).
Yes, Lord, amen and amen. I cannot stop praising You for my every move, my every joy or sorrow, every victory or defeat, has been known to You, provided or allowed, so that I could meet You here at this moment, and again and again I am astonished by Your care. ‘Had not Yahweh been with us—let Israel declare it now! Had not Yahweh been with us when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger was kindled against us. Then the waters would have inundated us, the current would have surged across our soul, the treacherous waters. Blessed is the Lord, who did not present us as prey for their teeth. Our soul escaped like a bird from the hunter’s snare. The snare broke, and we escaped. Our help is through the name of Yahweh, Maker of heaven and earth…’ (Psalm 124).
One after another, so many blessings fall upon me as I read I am overwhelmed. Though sorrows may seem forever, they are soon over. Though blessings may seem brief, they are forever. I find myself too quickly at the conclusion of the psalms appointed, as the morning breaks with the gray light of a cloudy morning, a sleepy fore-sabbath for my last day of labor in others’ fields. ‘Mizmor Qoph Lamed Dalet, shir ha-ma’alot…’ I arise with the song of the Lord my God on my unworthy lips, ‘Behold, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand in the House of the Lord in the nights. Lift your hands in the Sanctuary and bless the Lord. May Yahweh bless you from Zion, Maker of heaven and earth…’ (Psalm 134).
Yes, I am leaving Goshen forever. Open to me, O Lord, the gates of repentance, and let me follow You into the wilderness, for Your countenance is beautiful, and Your words are sweet.
at 7:31 AM